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Sri Lanka: Political consensus for peace talks

Political consensus for peace talks

Giving top priority for the peace process in his agenda, President Mahinda Rajapakse will invite all political parties in Parliament to review the possibility of reaching a consensus among political parties before commencing direct talks with the LTTE.

Addressing the media to brief the decisions of the first Cabinet meeting of President Rajapakse's Cabinet, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said the President's invitation to all parties will be extended soon.

"The President will extend his invitation to the parties today or tomorrow," Minister Siripala de Silva added.

"The President has reiterated that the peace process will be given priority by his Government and his open invitation extended to the LTTE for discussions will stay on."

The preliminary level discussion with the political parties will explore the possibilities of reaching a consensus among political parties and decide on the modalities regarding the peace process.

Minister de Silva said the Cabinet has decided to appoint Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, who headed the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process under President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, as a consultant to the Peace Secretariat. "Dr. Dhanapala has agreed to retain his service as a consultant to the Peace Secretariat," Minister de Silva told the media.

The Deputy Head of the Peace Secretariat Dr. John Goonaratne has been appointed as the Director General of the Peace Secretariat, he added. Asked whether the discussion with other political parties will be held on the basis of the unitary structure, Minister de Silva said it will depend on the consensus among the political parties.

"We will not be restricted to words. We are going to depend on the consensus reached," Minister de Silva added. The President has said that he would also discuss with other groups outside the Parliament before commencing direct talks with the LTTE.

"We are hopeful we can proceed with the peace process," the Minister added.

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